Janae Fulcher and Micaela Pickens walked off the court with three seconds left in the game against USC on Sunday to a standing ovation.
When they reached the bench, head coach Charli Turner Thorne and their teammates embraced them. These two seniors had just played the final home game of their career at Wells Fargo Arena.
Following the buzzer that sealed a 67-60 USC victory, Fulcher and Pickens were in tears as they watched a video that highlighted their careers at ASU. They were then escorted to center court by their families and recognized for all the contributions they made to the women’s basketball program.
Despite a loss in their final home game, both seniors still said they were pleased with their team’s effort from start to finish.
“I am happy. We fought and we didn’t let the time or the score affect us. We just played basketball and that’s just what we do. We just have to do it sooner than later, but I’m just happy that we can go out there and not be defeated and still fight for what we want,” Pickens said.
The effort was there for the Lady Devils throughout the first half, but they only shot 27.6 percent from the field. ASU also committed 11 fouls in the half, and USC took advantage of this by shooting 72.7 percent at the line. The Trojans led at halftime 34-23 after Fulcher was fouled at the buzzer and hit one free throw.
When play resumed, the Trojans continued to execute their offense and held a steady lead. With 9:53 left in the game, back-to-back layups by Fulcher cut the lead to four, but USC’s Christina Marinacci answered with a layup of her own. However, the Lady Devils continued to fight in the last two minutes of the game and never gave up despite the fact they were down 60-50 with 54 seconds left.
“That was probably the longest two minutes and 13 seconds I have ever played in my entire life. But I am so proud of how hard we fought, and we literally fought down to the last two seconds,” Fulcher said.
Fulcher ended her career at Wells Fargo Arena on a high note, earning herself a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. She was a force to be reckoned with on the court and has been a true leader all season.
Pickens struggled the majority of the game and she was held scoreless until the last 37 seconds. She ended on a very strong note though and scored eight points in this time frame. She was also second behind Fulcher in rebounding with nine.
Turner Thorne said she was also happy with the hard work her team put in on the court in order to try and get the seniors one last victory at home.
“They came back, practiced well yesterday and they were fired up. I know the returners wanted to send the seniors out on a winning note. They were very focused and fired up to do that, but it seemed like we were trying too hard,” Turner Thorne said.
During her postgame press conference, the head coach also sent out a word of thanks to those who stuck by ASU throughout the entire season.
“Thank you to all the fans for the continued support of our program and everyone that is involved with putting on our games. We just have amazing people and we appreciate everything,” Turner Thorne said.
Even though this loss marks the end of the Lady Devils’ regular season, the team travels to Seattle this week for the Pac-12 Tournament as the No. 9 seed. They will play eighth ranked Washington State on Thursday at 6 p.m. PST.
If ASU wins this match-up, they will face top-seeded Stanford on Friday in the quarterfinals.